Photo Credit: Photo by J Lauryn Photography
Black Excellence: This Couple Created A Translation App That's Perfect For Your Next Trip
For husband and wife duo, Keithan and Quiante Hedrick, traveling to countries that weren’t as Americanized was something they often shied away from. They would seek out destinations where English was the main language and they could easily communicate with those around them.
Instead of holding themselves back from experiencing more of the world, they set out to create a solution. In August, the couple released their app Instaspeakers via the App Store and Google Play.
Keithan was the captain of their Illinois high school football team and Quiante was captain of the cheerleading squad. After Keithan’s brave choice to ask for Quiante’s help on some homework, the pair became inseparable.
They have now been together for 11 years, married for 4, and are raising their 5-year old son Scott in the Chicago area.
Keithan would go on to become a Corporate attorney where he has worked for the last 5 years. A few years later, Quiante followed and entered law school as well.
She recently put her law school career on hold to pursue the couple’s venture full-time. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the business including screening and hiring translators, working closely with developers to ensure the app is working at its highest level, and serving as the company’s marketing director.
How Instaspeakers was born
The couple wanted to be able to travel more. They were afraid to visit places with major language barriers. The idea of having to do more work while on vacation, in order to have meaningful convos with those who spoke different languages, just wasn’t something they wanted to do.
But, the couple did write down the idea for their solution.
As fate would have it, Keithan recently stumbled upon this idea that he wrote down nearly 4-years ago.
“I was heading into a meeting and happened to turn to the page that I wrote this idea down on, almost four years ago,” Keithan Hedrick told Travel Noire. “It was for an on-demand platform for translators. I re-discovered it this past March and wanted to actually act on it.”
The couple began working on the idea and by April officially got the ball rolling. Keithan used money from his career as an attorney to get things moving and they officially launched in August.
“We wanted a way for people to travel and be able to communicate with others, no matter where they go. We found it hard to use Google translate at times and wanted to bring something that was conversational and natural.”
How it works
Instaspeakers is very user-friendly and mirrors the steps that many travelers are already familiar with through apps such as Uber.
After downloading the app and creating your profile, you select the language that you will need to be translated. As of now, the app can translate most major languages as well as American sign language.
Next, you provide an estimate for how long your conversation will last.
“Most calls average about 2 to 2 and a half minutes,” Keithan explained.
This helps to provide an estimate for your expected cost. It also allows the translator to decide whether or not they are able to accept the job, just as Uber drivers can accept or deny rides.
You will have the option to choose from an elite or premiere translator. Elite translators are those with less than 10 years experience and charge a rate of $1.50 per minute. Premiere holds more than 10 years of experience and will run you $2.50 per minute. Premiere is suggested for business settings.
Finally, you hit the book button. The app will pair you with a translator and you will have the option to video chat, do audio-only, or even text with them through the app.
“The great thing about having human interaction is that your translator can see and understand the context of the conversation in real-time. This is important because most translation apps that use artificial intelligence only, can’t do this and most times only match with the closest meanings without context.”
Your translator will be on screen, as a third party between you and the person you are attempting to converse with. All translators are certified and thoroughly screened prior to joining.
You can even get documents translated into audio files at around $.02- $.04 per word.
On creating a new lane in tech
“This is so empowering,” Quiante Hedrick said. “The tech industry is dominated by those who don’t look like us. It feels great to blaze this path for our people. We are just two people in the legal field, who set out to create something that’s useful for everyone.”
The couple points out that we are in a pivotal moment when it comes to Black excellence. Tyler Perry made everyone a little more confident in their dreams with the opening of his studio in Atlanta.
“We want this app to be the catalyst that takes us [Black people] to the next level,” Keithan said.
Finally, when asked to provide a few nuggets of advice to aspiring Black tech creators and business owners, the couple said this:
“It’s important to get out of the planning stage and actually put money behind your idea. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, but until you spend money you’re not serious. It holds you accountable. There’s no perfect time to start, you just have to do it and roll with the punches as they come. Also, just because it’s been done before doesn’t mean you can’t do it and also be profitable. Lyft didn’t say that when they saw that Uber was on the market. Find a way to bring something different, but it can definitely happen.”
Quiante also added that it’s important to believe in yourself and your product. If you don’t, then it will be hard to get others to believe in it too.